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''To Kill a Mockingbird'' Chapter 22: Summary, Quotes, & Analysis

Bethany Calderwood, Erica Schimmel
  • Author
    Bethany Calderwood

    Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University.

  • Instructor
    Erica Schimmel

    Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Explore Chapter 22 of ''To Kill a Mockingbird''. Read a summary and analysis, find quotes, and discover what happens to Atticus Fitch at the end of Chapter 22. Updated: 05/18/2022

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 22: Overview

To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee's landmark 1960 novel dealing with coming-of-age and racial relations themes. The novel is set in Maycomb, Alabama in the mid-1930s. Scout Finch narrates the novel, and she is eight years old by Chapter 22. Scout and her older brother Jem Finch live with their widowed father, lawyer Atticus Finch. The court appoints Atticus to defend a Black man, Tom Robinson, who a white woman, Mayella Ewell, falsely accused of raping her. In a town racked with prejudice and suspicion, Atticus's role causes quite a stir. Although Atticus warns his children not to fight about the case, they have frequent encounters with others who are mocking and insulting in the weeks and months preceding the trial. Their Aunt Alexandra comes to stay with the family for some time.

On the day of the trial, Atticus warns his children to stay home. However, they and their friend Dill sneak into town and sit in the balcony to watch the trial. They hear the testimonies bravely, although at one point Dill has to leave because the injustice and frustration have brought him to tears. The jury deliberates for a long time, and Jem hopes for the best. But when they finally return, they issue a verdict of 'guilty.' Atticus leaves the courtroom, and the crowd rises to leave, too. As Chapter 22 opens, it is Jem's turn to cry.

It Was Jem's Turn to Cry

At the opening of Chapter 22, Jem is angrily crying as he, Scout, and Dill leave the courtroom. Throughout the trial, Jem was optimistic about Tom's chances. But despite Atticus disproving the Ewell's claims, the jury returned a guilty verdict after hours of deliberation. They make their way to Atticus while Jem repeats 'It ain't right.' Atticus agrees.

They find Aunt Alexandra waiting up at home. Scout wonders if Jem somehow blames Atticus for the guilty verdict. When Aunt Alexandra asks if Jem is all right, Atticus responds the trial was a little much for Jem. Aunt Alexandra proclaims she did not think the children should attend. Atticus interrupts, saying this is their home and they will have to learn to manage. She pushes her point, but he tells her racism is 'just as much Maycomb County as missionary teas.' He tells her he is not bitter, only tired.

Jem asks how the jury could convict Tom. Atticus responds that he doesn't know, but this is not the first time, nor will it be the last. His response implies he is more upset about the unfairness of the racist verdict than he is letting on.

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To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 22: Summary

Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird begins as the trial ends and the courtroom crowd exits.

  • Going Home: Jem cries angry tears as he walks away from the courtroom. He and Scout catch up with Atticus, who agrees with Jem's assertion that "It ain't right." At home, Aunt Alexandra is waiting. Atticus tells her Jem will be all right eventually. When Aunt Alexandra objects to the children having seen the trial, Atticus remarks that since they were part of making the town the way it is, they need to teach the children to cope with it. Everyone goes to bed.
  • Better in the Morning: Atticus tells Jem they will appeal the verdict. Calpurnia, the Black woman who has cared for Scout and Jem and the house for many years, serves a breakfast feast, starting with chicken and rolls. When questioned, she shows them the heaps of food that people left on the back steps in appreciation of Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson. Atticus tells her to give them his gratitude but to tell them not to do it again because times are hard. He leaves for town.
  • With Miss Maudie: Dill comes over and he, Scout, and Jem go to the porch. Miss Maudie calls them over for cake. Miss Maudie usually makes them each a little cake, so Scout is concerned to see only two little cakes alongside the one big cake. She's afraid Miss Maudie forgot Dill, but Miss Maudie offers Jem a slice of the big cake. She tells Jem not to fret. Jem objects. He feels disillusioned because of how the townsfolk treated Atticus for doing the right thing. Miss Maudie first says that Atticus is doing the town's dirty work for them, then points out that more people tried to help than Jem realized, such as Tom's friends, people like Miss Maudie and Atticus, the sheriff, and even the judge. How did Judge Taylor try to help Tom? Rather than appointing Maxwell Green to the case, which both Scout and Jem knew to be protocol, Judge Taylor appointed Atticus, giving Tom at least a chance at good representation. Miss Maudie tells them this case was a baby step for the town.
  • Bad News: The children leave Miss Maudie's and Dill announces a new ambition: to be a clown and laugh since it's the only thing he has the power to do. Jem objects because clowns are sad, and people laugh at them. Suddenly several neighbors rush up and warn the children to go home. Bob Ewell spat on Atticus and threatened him at the post office. This warning is a sign that trouble is coming.

The chapter opens on an angry note and ends with a hint of apprehension because of what happens to Atticus at the end of Chapter 22. Between these bookends, however, Scout and Jem take small steps in processing the traumatic events of the trial they witnessed.

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 22: Quotes

Chapter 22 of To Kill a Mockingbird reveals the characters' internal conflicts as they view a harsh reality. For the adults, the verdict was expected but heavy, while for the children it was a hard shock. These quotations from conversations in Chapter 22 reflect these internal conflicts:

Before he goes to bed, Jem turns to his father and demands, ''How could they do it, how could they?'' Atticus replies out of the heaviness of sorrow and disappointment:

  • ''I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.''

When Dill comes over, Jem chides him for not telling his aunt where he was the previous day. Dill insists he told her, but she was drunk so she forgot. Aunt Alexandra tells him not to be cynical. Dill's defense is:

  • ''I ain't cynical, Miss Alexandra, Tellin' the truth's not cynical, is it?'' Alexandra's response is, ''The way you tell it, it is.''

Scout, Jem, and Dill sit down with Miss Maudie and she wants to talk to them about the trial. She begins:

  • ''I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them.''

Things Seem Better in the Morning

Despite the disappointment, Atticus gets up at his usual early hour. He is reading the paper in the living room when Scout and Jem get out of bed. Atticus reassures Jem there will at least be an appeal. Their conversation is cut short when Calpurnia serves Atticus his breakfast. She tells him that Tom Robinson's father sent over a chicken. Another woman sent over rolls. When Atticus is puzzled, Calpurnia tells him he should come with her to the kitchen. Scout and Jem follow.

They find the 'kitchen table loaded with enough food to bury the family.' Calpurnia tells Atticus she found the food on the back steps when she arrived. She tells Atticus the food is meant to show appreciation, and asks whether the senders crossed a line. Atticus, with tears in his eyes, is silent for a moment. When he speaks, he asks her to tell them he is thankful. He quickly leaves and makes his way to town without eating his breakfast.

Dill arrives as Atticus is leaving. He tells them that Miss Rachel was upset with him for not telling her he went to the trial. He says that he told her his plans, but she doesn't remember, because she drinks. He mentions that she thinks 'if a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone wall it's his head.' When Aunt Alexandra tells him not to speak in such a cynical way, Dill insists he is only telling the truth.

Cake With Miss Maudie

The children step outside and see Miss Stephanie Crawford talking to Miss Maudie and Mr. Avery about the trial. Miss Maudie calls Jem over, and Dill and Scout go with him. When they arrive, Miss Stephanie begins questioning them about the trial. Miss Maudie quiets her, and tells Jem she woke up at five to bake cakes, so he and his colleagues must say yes to coming over.

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Video Transcript

It Was Jem's Turn to Cry

At the opening of Chapter 22, Jem is angrily crying as he, Scout, and Dill leave the courtroom. Throughout the trial, Jem was optimistic about Tom's chances. But despite Atticus disproving the Ewell's claims, the jury returned a guilty verdict after hours of deliberation. They make their way to Atticus while Jem repeats 'It ain't right.' Atticus agrees.

They find Aunt Alexandra waiting up at home. Scout wonders if Jem somehow blames Atticus for the guilty verdict. When Aunt Alexandra asks if Jem is all right, Atticus responds the trial was a little much for Jem. Aunt Alexandra proclaims she did not think the children should attend. Atticus interrupts, saying this is their home and they will have to learn to manage. She pushes her point, but he tells her racism is 'just as much Maycomb County as missionary teas.' He tells her he is not bitter, only tired.

Jem asks how the jury could convict Tom. Atticus responds that he doesn't know, but this is not the first time, nor will it be the last. His response implies he is more upset about the unfairness of the racist verdict than he is letting on.

Things Seem Better in the Morning

Despite the disappointment, Atticus gets up at his usual early hour. He is reading the paper in the living room when Scout and Jem get out of bed. Atticus reassures Jem there will at least be an appeal. Their conversation is cut short when Calpurnia serves Atticus his breakfast. She tells him that Tom Robinson's father sent over a chicken. Another woman sent over rolls. When Atticus is puzzled, Calpurnia tells him he should come with her to the kitchen. Scout and Jem follow.

They find the 'kitchen table loaded with enough food to bury the family.' Calpurnia tells Atticus she found the food on the back steps when she arrived. She tells Atticus the food is meant to show appreciation, and asks whether the senders crossed a line. Atticus, with tears in his eyes, is silent for a moment. When he speaks, he asks her to tell them he is thankful. He quickly leaves and makes his way to town without eating his breakfast.

Dill arrives as Atticus is leaving. He tells them that Miss Rachel was upset with him for not telling her he went to the trial. He says that he told her his plans, but she doesn't remember, because she drinks. He mentions that she thinks 'if a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone wall it's his head.' When Aunt Alexandra tells him not to speak in such a cynical way, Dill insists he is only telling the truth.

Cake With Miss Maudie

The children step outside and see Miss Stephanie Crawford talking to Miss Maudie and Mr. Avery about the trial. Miss Maudie calls Jem over, and Dill and Scout go with him. When they arrive, Miss Stephanie begins questioning them about the trial. Miss Maudie quiets her, and tells Jem she woke up at five to bake cakes, so he and his colleagues must say yes to coming over.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Jem struggling with in Chapter 22 of ''To Kill a Mockingbird''?

In chapter 22, Jem is struggling with the fact that people he has always considered to be good have just condemned an innocent man to death. He wants to know why they can't see what is right and what could make them change. Jem is upset by Miss Maudie's point of view that small steps of progress have been made, and he doesn't feel that a few people helping is enough.

What happens to Atticus at the end of Chapter 22 of ''To Kill a Mockingbird''?

At the end of chapter 22, several neighbors rush to tell the children to go home because Atticus was threatened and spat on by Bob Ewell at the post office. It signals danger is coming.

What is a summary of Chapter 22 in ''To Kill a Mockingbird''?

Chapter 21 ends with a 'guilty' verdict in the trial of Tom Robinson. Chapter 22 is about people processing that verdict. The chapter opens with Jem in angry tears as they walk home. Atticus is weary, but resigned. In the morning, they find gifts of food from Tom Robinson's friends to thank Atticus for defending him. Scout, Jem, and Dill have cake with Miss Maudie, who tries to encourage them that others are trying to help as well. After they have cake, several neighbors let them know that Atticus was threatened by Bob Ewell at the post office.

What is the conflict in Chapter 22 of ''To Kill a Mockingbird''?

Chapter 22 in To Kill a Mockingbird captures the internal conflict of the characters as they process the verdict. The children wrestle with disappointment and cynicism, while the adults suggest that there may be a glimmer of hope in some of the details. The chapter's ending hints at external conflict to come when Atticus is threatened.

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